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PAGE 12A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 25, 2017 1~ Ueda Students in the visual arts track of the Genesis pre-college summer program at Brandeis take part in a drawing exercise on perspective. By Ira Stoll WALTHAM, Mass.--Mary Pridgen is an innovation- minded teenager who doesn't like to waste time. Volunteering in politics in Biloxi, Mississippi, Prid- gen long had been vexed by a recurring problem: how to diplomatically extricate herself from meetings with long-winded people. So when she arrived at the Brandeis campus this summer for the technology track ofa pre-college summer program focused on experi- ential learning and Jewish community, Pridgen came up with a solution: She designed a pair of shoes that generates a call to your cellphone when you click the heels together, giving you an excuse to leave. Itwas one of the things that Pridgen, 15, said she loved about the Genesis program, which draws high school stu- dents from around the world for two- or four-week mini-courses ranging from culinary art and anthropology to science and social entrepreneurship--all with a Jewish lens. UT L If you're like most people, you'll probably wait until the last minute to send your annual Jewish New Year greetings. And, like most people, you will probably truly regret having waited so long. However, once a year, prior to Rosh Hashanah, you have the opportunity to wish your family and friends and the Jewish community "A Happy and Healthy New Year" through the Special Rosh Hashanah Edition of HERITAGE. No Postage -- No Problems -- No Excuses! Having your personal New Year Greeting appear in the HERITAGE Special Rosh Hashanah Edition shortly before the holiday begins, will save you time, money, inconvenience and worry about whether or not your cards were delivered. You won't leave anyone out, because your family and friends will be among the thousands of members of the Jewish community reading this special edition. Deadline for Greetings is September 6, 2017. BEST WISHES FOR A HAPPY NEW YEAR Or your personal message) YOUR NAME A $19.70 11/2"X 2" D $78.80 31/4"X 4" May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a Happy and Healthy Year (Or your personal message) YOUR NAME I- May the New Year be ever joyous for You and Your Family (Or your personal message) YOUR NAME E DATE OF ISSUE: $98.50 3114"X 5" September 15, 2017 L'Shana Tova Tikatevu (Or your personal message) YOUR NAME REETINGS AND BEST WISHES FOR A HAPPY NEW YEAR (Or your personal message) YOUR NAME B $39.40 31/4"X 2" C $59.10 31/4"x 3" "7 Mail to: HERITAGE GREETING, P.O. Box 300742, Fern Park, FL 32730 Please run my greeting in your holiday issue. I would like ad (circle one) A B C D E. I am enclosing a check in the amount of $ (all ads must be paid for in advance). Or please bill my credit card (check one): Visa Master Card: Card No. Expiration Date Signature Name Address City/State/Zip Name(s) on greeting should read: L If you have any questions, call HERITAGE at 407-834-8787. _J Another reason Prid- gen enjoyed her time at Brandeis, she said, was be- cause there are "not a lot of Jewish people in Mississippi, but there are a lot of Jewish people here." (I wanted to continue my conversation with Pridgen, but I was worried her phone was going to ring.) Experts in the field teach the courses. The wearable technology laboratory track was led by Russel Neiss, a software engineer at the Jewish text website Sefaria. Many of the program par- ticipants arrived with no coding experience, he said, and in the space of two weeks learned the skills to complete projects like the shoes or a "fairy dress" that lights up when it moves. "It's sort of a magical thing," Neiss said. The wide range of partici- pants--North Americans, Israelis and Russians, from a smattering of non-Jews to Orthodox Jews and every- thing in between--means that students are practically guaranteed to be living, eat- ing and "figuring out how to work with people who are radically different," said Rabbi Charlie Schwartz, the Genesis program's director and one of Brandeis' Jew- ish chaplains. With about 40 percent of participants from overseas, the conver- sations that the students have with each other often are radically different from what they are used to at home, he noted. "Each course integrates Jewish content in some way," Schwartz said. "On the theater track, partici- pants studied a Jewish text through the lens of an artistic medium. This year it was the Book of Jonah. On our gender and sexuality track, participants talkedwith each about not just how gender is constructed in society, but also in Jewish tradition. We place a big emphasis on building pluralistic, dynamic communities." This summer, about 30 percent of the program's participants were of Rus- sian extraction, includ- ing students who came from Moscow, Kiev, North America and Israel. They col- laborated with peers from Is- rael and North America in building and programming wearable technology--or, in the culinary art and an- thropology track, debating whether latkes or hamen- taschen are the quintessen- tial Jewish food. One student argued not just in favor of latkes, but a particular kind of potato pan- cake: "Belarussian draniki" of the sort her family eats with sour cream and milk every Sunday morning. Making her case, she and her teammates noted that latkes have more Google search results than hamentaschen and a longer entry in Gil Marks' Encyclo- pedia of Jewish Food, and that Hanukkah is more widely celebrated than Purim. The latke, unlike hamentaschen, has even been mentioned in a U.S. Supreme Court case, County of Alleghenyv. Ameri- can Civil Liberties Union. Liz Alpern and Jeffrey Yo- skowitz, cookbook authors and co-founders of the popu- lar Gefilteria, a trendy Brook- lyn food company that serves up classic Jewish dishes with a modern twist, provided guidance. Alpern is herself a graduate of the Genesis program. In building their arguments, the students also consulted via email with Brandeis professor Jona- than Sarna, the renowned expert in American Jewish history whose participation in a latke-hamentaschen debate a decade ago is fondly remembered on the Brandeis campus. Regardless of who pre- vailed in the debate, there was no arguing that the versions cooked and baked by the participants were uniformly and exceedingly tasty. The latkes came in two varlet- ies--one traditional potato, another that incorporated parsnips and turnips. They were accompanied by fresh lox and homemade sour cream, cinnamon applesauce and pickled green beans. The hamentaschen were made with seven different fillings: raspberry, apricot, potato and herb, ricotta and honey, cheese and veggies, nutella and butterscotch In a different Brandeis campus building, another group of students was bent over wires, batteries and lap- top computers with the same intensity and creative energy that the cooks had gathered around their frying pans. Benjamen Pinsky, a 15-year- old from Toronto who likes magic, designed and built a hat that when tilted asks if you'd like to see a magic trick. For Brandeis, the pre- college programs--they include an app design boot camp, a global youth sum- mit and other courses fo- cused on Israel studies and arts--are a way to make the Brandeis experience available to younger students, many of whom eventually apply to the university. The Genesis program was founded in 1997 with a grant from Steven Spiel- berg's Righteous Persons Foundation. These days a big supporter is the Genesis Philanthropy Group, .which focuses on building Jewish identity among Russian Jews and is known for the annual Genesis Prize, a $1 million award that has been won by Michael Bloomberg and Michael Douglas. For Neiss, the technology teacher, this was his eighth year as an instructor. Neiss, a St. Louis resident, said he looks forward every year to the weeks he spends at Brandeis surrounded bywires and computers and, most of all, "a group of teens re- ally interested in the subject matter who want to be here." This article was spon- sored by and produced in partnership with Brandeis University, a university founded by the American Jewish community, dedi- cated to academic excellence, critical thinking, openness to all and tikkun olam. This article was produced by JTA's native content team.